Church & State

User Forum Topic
Submitted by PerryChase on August 29, 2006 - 5:57pm

I move this topic here at powayseller's request.
It's better to keep the threats on topic.

"We don't have to assume it

Submitted by DrChaos on August 29, 2006 - 2:29pm.

"We don't have to assume it is the one true faith to demand that
the cross stay where it is. This country was founded on
Judeo-Christian beliefs and they are a part of our history."

No, and yes.

"This monument is a historical treasure." A bit of an

"These same people would have us remove all references to
Christianity out of the Constuitution."

That's a good thing, because there aren't any, and there were
never any.

The text of the Constitution is here:

There are exactly two places in the Constitution which
mention religion.

One: "no religious Test shall ever be required as a
Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United

Two: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment
of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"

It is plainly obvious how the adopters of the Constitution in
1791 considered the suitable interaction between the government
and religion: keep away.

"I'm sure we've all heard that we should choose our battles
carefully. Well, when it comes to the ACLU why is it that their
lawsuits always seem to target those things that most American
hold dear? Like Christmas, Christian historic monuments, the Boy
Scouts etc and other fringe issues."

The ACLU also upholds what many people hold dear: The Bill of
Rights. You only hear about a certain fraction of the ACLU

I personally think the Mt Soledad cross is not an important

But if it were an entirely secular monument as some
proponents purport, why are there no atheists who really want to
keep it? Suppose, for instance, the cross were turned into a
white rectangle? Clearly secular and still a veterans memorial.
I bet that would make people mad. Why?


Because a rectangle is

Submitted by barnaby33 on August 29, 2006 - 2:48pm.

Because a rectangle is clearly not representative of the one true

Its not a war memorial, its a cross, and its on public
land. Nobody I know of wants to remove the memorial portion. I too
have not that much interest in its removal, except for the
vociferous objections of those that want to keep it, namely

The sooner the defenders of the cross own up to their true
motives, the sooner we can have a more civil discussion of the place
of religious symbols in public life.

Mostly I veer away from the more inflamatory subjects ie
immigration politics. Not this time. I wonder why? At the base of my
soul I really don't care whether a cross sits on Soledad. I do care
that those wanting to defend it have been so disingenuous about it.


It's in a third place, too,

Submitted by jg on August 29, 2006 - 4:25pm.

It's in a third place, too, Dr. Chaos; see "Signers" under your link:
"Done in convention by the unanimous consent of the states present the
seventeenth day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand seven
hundred and eighty seven and of the independence of the United States of
America the twelfth."

I'm just a graduate of government (public)
schools, but I think that means that there was some deference to
Christianity by the signers of the U.S. Constitution, or, at at the very
least, no aversion to its presence in the public life of the newly-found


jg, are you kidding? Since

Submitted by vcguy_10 on August 29, 2006 - 5:03pm.

jg, are you kidding? Since when "lord" became an exclusively christian
reference? It may refer to "god" in any monotheistic religion.

But I
digress. What we have in "the year of our Lord one thousand seven
hundred and eighty seven"
is nothing more than 1787 AD. As I'm sure
you learned in your public school, AD stands for anno domine,
literally "year of the lord" and is simply a system for dating. You
don't need to be a christian to use the AD or BC nomenclature when
referring to dates.


I concur with you, vcguy_10.

Submitted by PerryChase on August 29, 2006 - 5:16pm.

I concur with you, vcguy_10. The Gregorian calendar is simply a dating
system. It's now being used all over the world but people who use it are
not necessarily Christians.

Submitted by JES on August 29, 2006 - 7:41pm.

At the time of the writting of the constitution was the calendar in widespread use by non-Christians? There is a wealth of other evidence that this country was created on Christian principles and that there was no intention to abolish Christianity from public life.

There's not even a very convincing seperation of church and state argument to be made. The phrase "separation of church and state" does not even appear in the Constitution, but rather is derived from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to a group identifying themselves as the Danbury Baptists.

We can argue that all day long, but what is really disturbing are groups who want to go back and revise history, eliminate references to Christianity and tear down everything from city crosses to city seals. Let's open our arms widely to other religions who were not present at our founding, but let's not destroy our own traditions and history in the process.

Addl evidence from our founding:
-The English colonists in 1607 did, in fact, plant the Cross of Jesus Christ in the sand. Quote: “The nine and twentieth day we set up a cross at Chesupioc Bay, and named the place Cape Henry.”

-Englishmen who founded Jamestown were organized under the Virginia Charter, which called for the “propagating of Christian religion to such people as yet live in darkness and miserable ignorance of the true knowledge and worship of God.”

-The U.S. Constitution is the product of a constitution-making tradition that can be traced to colonial charters and which is modeled on the biblical covenant—a solemn agreement between God and man.

-George Washington, who served as president of the Constitutional Convention, ordered that that every delegate have a copy of Connecticut’s Constitution. He did so “because it was so powerfully done, so rooted in Holy Scripture, in the Word of God, such an effective document, that he wanted that to be a reference work for the federal Constitution work they were about to get into.”

-The First Continental Congress, 1774. Their first official act was a call to prayer at 9:00am. Ever since the First Continental Congress each session of Congress is still started with an opening prayer.

Submitted by jg on August 29, 2006 - 9:37pm.

Great citations, JES. I'm glad that I'm on your side!

Submitted by ybc on August 29, 2006 - 9:50pm.

JES and JG: would you have problems with religious symbols from other religions being displayed in public places?

Submitted by PerryChase on August 29, 2006 - 10:33pm.

The US Constitution is based on biblical covenants? The Bible had nothing to do with the Constitution. And there was never any agreement between man and god.

The constitution was influenced by classical antiquity, the English form of government, the writings for French philosophers, the Magna Carta and the English Bill of Rights.

The nation was founded by Christians but that doesn’t give the Christian religion any place in government.

Interpretation of the Constitution is ever evolving. I won’t argue this any further here and I’ll let the courts interpret the law of the land. In the end, I’m confident that the Soledad cross will be removed.

Submitted by barnaby33 on August 29, 2006 - 10:55pm.

Thanks for moving this off the RE board where we, myself included, started it.


Submitted by contraman on August 29, 2006 - 11:18pm.

We have people downtown who live on the streets and don't have food to eat, we have a city council that takes our future away from us by not handling pension funds properly, we have people who are in need of housing assistance in San Diego and we spend tons of tax dollars arguing over the removal of a stone cross. I mean the guy who brought the lawsuit needs to think about the bigger picture here.

I don't see or hear of people that became a CHRISTIAN because they drove up to Soledad and saw a cross signifying sacrifice.

We need to address the real issues here. I wonder if the guy that wants to take it down has spent as much time and effort helping people in need of real help...

Who cares....keep it up or take it is what lies in a person's heart my's what lies beneath....

Sincerely, Contraman

Submitted by sdrebear on August 29, 2006 - 11:39pm.

I just wish people would take a seriously honest look at the motivations behind their actions.

Exactly why are the Christians asking the government to specifically and exclusively endorse their religion above all others?

Why are the atheists trying to remove references to even the most Deist version of "God" from everything?

I've done plenty of research on our founders and while quite religious, they understood (from some very fresh experiences we thankfully don't have the misfortune of knowing in our lifetime) that a secular government was both proper and absolutely key to protecting the very religion they love so deeply. No, they never wished to completely remove reference to "God" or religion in general from all public arenas, but they absolutely meant to set limits on its use by the government in order to prevent the probable theocracy that would entail.

The founders certainly did not want Christians to take their reference to "God" as their own and use it as some sort of national mandate to push Christianity onto everyone else with public funds and manpower. I think Washington and John Adams (not to mention the entire Senate) were pretty clear about that with the Treaty of Tripoli where they specifically spelled out that this country [United States of America] was not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion. Treaty of Peace and Friendship "Treaty of Tripoli"

This Treaty did not "establish" America as being a non-Christian country, but certainly showed the true mind-set of our founders. We can assume they were of the same mind when drafting the constitution. Despite being Christian, they did not want the government "founded" on that, or any other religion.

I certainly can't speak any better on it than Mr. Jon Meacham, currently a managing editor for Newsweek. He has quite the background in religion to be sure and it would be just as important to read where he's been as it is to read his thoughts on religion in our country today.

It would be helpful to open our minds a bit (from both sides of the issue) and understand better where we came from and how our founders have kept extremism in check (again, from both sides) for all these years.

Here is a summary of his latest book: American Gospel. There are three pages, and I hope you'll read them all. Quite a clear explanation for both sides I feel.

Here is a quick Bio on Jon Meacham. I think it will help in believing he has the background to understand both sides of this issue better than most of us.

My frustration is mostly when people make arguments for their "side" without even a basic understanding of the real issues at hand. In the case of the Mt. Soledad Cross, when you state that you want that cross to stand on government land, then you are literally telling the government that you want them to help control your religion. As I've said, be careful what you wish for.

Forget for a second that it is an atheist leading the action against the cross' location (I'm not saying he has the best intentions). Think only of the issue. The cross is on government land. When you take the emotion out of it and just look at the facts of the case, it's actually a pretty easy call. That's why the atheist won over 40 times in a row in court. He didn't even have a lawyer the first few times, or the ACLU for that matter (he didn't really need them).

Submitted by theplayers on August 30, 2006 - 12:17am.

Contraman, in response to your statement "...the guy who brought the lawsuit needs to think about the bigger picture here..."

He IS thinking about the bigger picture...

Submitted by PD on August 30, 2006 - 7:30am.

I would have a problem if government funds and land were going to be used to put up a cross today. But folks, it was already there and had become a landmark. That said, there should be no government money going to upkeep. If it became unstable or unsafe do to the fact it was not being maintained, then tear it down at that point. Or if the land was needed for a government building, tear it down. But we ended up spending tons of money over the whole thing because a few people did not like it. There are much better fights for civil liberties than this one.

Submitted by barnaby33 on August 30, 2006 - 7:45am.

PD, if that were so, wouldn't the defenders of the cross quietly said, yeah you know, you're right and taken it down 17 years ago? Obviously both groups feel its important. Religion in America seems to be both very important, and very public. Symbols are important to everyone. Which symbols are important to a person helps define their identity. This symbol in particular is of massive importance to a certain group in society. Any attempt to remove a symbol translates into a personal attack on that persons belief set.

That still doesn't make the symbol appropriate.

Contraman, I appreciate your perspective. What you have said is true, there are alot more important fiscal issues we have to deal with and still. Somehow we keep coming back to the issue of religion and public life and it stirs such passion. I don't know what the answer is, but I doubt it will be a compromise anyone will like.


Submitted by PD on August 30, 2006 - 8:35am.

The cross was already a landmark. I really do not see any harm in letting it stand until or unless it becomes unsafe or the land is needed for some other public use.

I was very upset when the Taliban blew up the two colossal statues of Buddha in Bamiyan Province. It was a spectacular piece of religious intolerance. This cross issue is not really about of the separation of church and state, in my mind. Rather, it is really one of religious intolerance in the guise of civil liberties.

Like I said before, I would have a problem with a new religious oriented structure on government land but IT WAS ALREADY THERE. It is a landmark. There is a minority of people who do not like it and are forcing their views on the masses. I would like to see the people vote on it. Perhaps the land can be leased or sold to a private group, thereby removing the government from the equation.

Submitted by JES on August 30, 2006 - 8:49am.

“Great citations, JES. I'm glad that I'm on your side!”
-Semper Fi! I did 6 years as a Marine officer to answer your earlier question brother!

“Would you have problems with religious symbols from other religions being displayed in public?
-No, I don’t have an issue with other religious symbols being displayed in public. If Muslims, Jews or atheists want to organize a parade in December organize it and find a way to make it happen. Just don’t take away my Christmas parade because you are offended by my religion and wrongly believe that separation of church and state applies right down to the city level as it was never intended to.

“The Bible had nothing to do with the Constitution”
-There are very good arguments against this we have presented, and if we look beyond the constitution to other historical documents, events and monuments the case is solid that Christianity was deeply rooted in our founding. Why is it that congress has opened with a prayer for 230+ years?

“We have people downtown who live on the streets and don't have food…we spend tons of tax dollars arguing over the removal of a stone cross…the guy who brought the lawsuit needs to think about the bigger picture...”
-Christian groups fighting the cross removal do more to help the needy than the city could ever hope to do. 2000+ years ago the issue was the erection of a cross and the outcome changed the world forever. Do you honesty think that the money spent by the city to defend the cross would have gone to the homeless anyway?

“Exactly why are the Christians asking the government to specifically and exclusively endorse their religion above all others?”
-We are not. I’m simply saying that this cross is an important part of San Diego history and should be preserved.

SDREBear - Thanks for the links, I plan to look them over today!

Submitted by PerryChase on August 30, 2006 - 11:18am.

sdrebear, thanks for the links. I learned about the Treaty of Tripoli years ago and it's all coming back to me now.

Yes, be carefully for what we wish for. The expedient solution today could easily become the tool for oppression tomorrow.

Submitted by ybc on August 30, 2006 - 11:39am.

sdrebear, well said.

The one article/speech that I like the most regarding the connection between religion and politics is this:

Submitted by barnaby33 on August 30, 2006 - 11:40am.

So in essence you equate the crosses removal with its destruction? Why is that. Couldn't the cross be moved to another location and be just as relevant, or must it be there, it its origonal place to have meaning? Again we come back to the intent of the cross.

If its just a war memorial, then it probably should be a religious endorsement.

If its an important part of local history, tell me how other than in a religious context this is so? I certainly don't know of any such history, not that I claim expertise.

If it is as I suspect a symbol of Christian domination of this land, then that sucker has to come down no question about it. Just because in the past religious bigotry was acceptable doesn't mean it is so now. I feel the cross is intertwined with the history of "No Jews need apply in La Jolla," though in a tangential way.

Religious tyranny is the same whether its Christian, Jewish or Muslim, or Atheist as I happen to be.

This is NOT a Christian land, its a secular land which happens to have a majority of Christians. I suspect that is the fundamental disagreement that we will never solve. If you view this nation as a place that is fundamentally Christian and just happens to be tolerant of others, of course your religious symbols should be pre-eminant. On the other hand, you could view this as a secular nation that gives favor to no religion; tolerates most if not all of them and treats them equally.

There is definitely an argument to be made to respect our hertiage, Judeo/Christian and otherwise. Its just wiser in my opinion to honor that heritage by minimising the impact of religion on public life.


Submitted by PD on August 30, 2006 - 12:37pm.

The cross has been there for fifty years and crosses have stood at that site for nearly one hundred years. Like I said, let the people decide. I do, however, think no government funds should go the upkeep of the cross.
Josh, I wonder if you would be so opposed to it if you were not an atheist?
While I went to a Methodist church as a child, I am not religious. In fact, I’m much like Carl Sagan. I do not want to believe, I want to know. I call myself agnostic but am probably closer to being an atheist. I will not go so far as to say that I know there is no God because I do not think that there is any proof that he does not exist. We do not have all the answers.
Live and let live. Leave the cross alone.

Submitted by PerryChase on August 30, 2006 - 1:28pm.

ybc, I too like Barack Obama. He's definitely very charismatic and a rising star in politics.

It's much better listening to his speeches in MP3 than to read them.

Submitted by barnaby33 on August 30, 2006 - 1:36pm.

Fair enough. The controversy won't be solved here, besides I like the fact that this has stayed civil.


Submitted by JES on August 30, 2006 - 3:07pm.

Yes, this has been a good discussion and like you said it will not be solved here. One thing I've learned from this is that I have fairly quickly reached my limit of knowledge on the matter and I plan to read a few books and do more research since it is such an interesting subject.

PD: There is a good book out there called The Case for Christ that may interest you. It was written by a Yale educated lawyer and former atheist Lee Strobel. He also wrote the follow-on book A Case for Faith. He approaches the topic of Christianity and faith in a very methodical and lawyer-like manner, and debates all of the common arguments you hear against Jesus and Christianity. Since he is now a Christian, there may be a certain amount of bias towards Christianity in his analysis, but overall he does a better job than anyone at presenting both sides of the debate, approaching it as a skeptic and providing answers other than 'just have faith.'

Submitted by jg on August 30, 2006 - 9:27pm.

Obama is like B.J. Clinton: mellifluous and sounds good, but when you evaluate the content, empty.

Submitted by ybc on August 30, 2006 - 9:32pm.

JG - what do you define as "content", and by your standard, whose speech is not empty?

Also, since you were in the Navy, how do you feel about the use of military right now in Iraq? Is the military stretched too thin rihgt now? If I may ask.

PerryChase -- Thanks for pointing out that MP3 of Obama's speeches are available.

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